Center For Workers Education

for building a democratic labour movement in India

Challenging Corporate-led Globalizatioin

The capitalist expansion means nothing but an all round war launched by capital to commoditize and privatize everything in the universe whatever is still left in the public space and centralize the ownership and control of everything in the corporate hands. The success of capital in this drive depends on the balance of power between capital on the one hand and labour and people at large at the other. This war is continuing since the emergence of capitalism. This war and the power balances between the two classes is very well reflected in the state’s behavior in terms moving in favour of people, trying to be neutral or openly taking the position of capital in different periods.

It is also reflected in varying scope and coverage of state’s control over national wealth and resources and also its regulatory authority in different periods. In this light, the current phase of globalization is most aggressive phase of capitalist expansion which is commoditizing virtually everything from nature to emotions, privatize everything whatever is still left in the public space, transferring the ownership and control of everything in corporate hands and virtually transforming the state in the corporate agent. With the private capital sitting on the driving seat and taking control of all wealth and resources and even the regulatory functions, the finance capital controlling all the world affairs (sitting at a distant place and detached from production activities), and the capital having attained unrestricted mobility invading all corners of society and the world in hunt for super profits, the whole world in essence looks like heading towards a stage of conscious barbarism.

Expansion and reorganization of production has almost assimilated everything in the value chain of the global capital. Huge section of various categories of self employed workers and peasants are assimilated in the global value chain and virtually converted in most exploited category of wage workers. The global value chain compels them to impose a self discipline on themselves to produce surplus value for capital

The reorganization of production operations on post-fordist models is most important aspect of globalization. This reorganization resulted in factories taking the shape of global factories. Totransfer the burden of social and environmental costs of production, the labour intensive and environmentally costly manufacturing operations are largely being shifted to the developing countries. This is accompanied with imposition of new global economic order implanting export oriented development models based on foreign investments in all third world countries. Therefore, the developing countries are compelled to compete with each other for more and more export orders and for more and more share of foreign investments. Metropolitan capital is reaping super-profits by throwing them in this cut throat competition. This competition becomes unique in the sense that the victory depends on another actual war with its own people, its own working class. To win this battle they are actually competing with each other in providing huge incentives to corporate in various forms including tax exemptions and unrestricted access to natural resources and unrestricted supply of cheaper labour etc. This has far reaching impact on the working class. The informalisation of labour and rampant violation of labour rights is actually inbuilt in this development strategy.

The life of capital depends on generating new real and un-real needs in the society, which is essential for capitalist expansion and also for increasing dependencies of the people on capital. The global capital as ‘class for itself’ is more equipped than in any earlier phase in effectively addressing this task and exercising effective psycho-cultural control over workers and society in general. This has an overall negative impact on the power of the working class.

Globalisation and liberalization, in the process, also created its force and resulted in the formation of a new transnational capitalist class (TCC) in the leadership of metropolitan capital, including the corporate of the developing countries who very soon transformed themselves in multinational corporations. It is in this background that the deregulations at national level and reregulation at international level became the rule of the game and supranational economic planning agencies captured the stage for virtually acting as international governments. Now the regulations for the global economy are to be decided by these supranational economic institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the OEGD, and business planning forums like the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Trilateral Commission (TLC), and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) etc. and the national governments are only to implement these regulations by harmonizing their regulations with these international regulations. The shifting of regulatory responsibilities to the international institutions (who are generally beyond the reach of the people) is also part of the effort to depoliticize governments, especially with respect to those matters that might be particularly contentious at the national level.

The global capital acting as ‘class for itself’ is acting in very conscious and planned way, at both production places and in society in general to blurt the class consciousness of the working class. At the factory level this is done by new management practices well designed to continuously inject pro-capital and anti-labour perspectives in workers; and the huge network of ideological, political, cultural arms of global capital well infiltrated in social movements effectively work for achieving the same goals in society in general.

However, disastrous impacts of globalization very soon generated widespread anti-corporate and anti-globalization sentiments which led to emergence of a strong global people’s movement demanding for international regulations to ensure labour rights, human rights, environmental rights and social rights to the people. Therefore, the Transnational Capitalist Class was forced to take a pro-active initiative to counter the movement for international legislations controlling the behavior of the TNCs and the outcome was CSR-Voluntary initiative of the corporate. Therefore political agenda of the CSR is very clear-to forestall any kind of legislation at international level controlling the behavior and restricting the activities of the corporate. Inherent in the agenda is projecting a socially responsible image of the corporate and dilute the anti-corporate and anti-globalization sentiments; and also getting a space to hide all TNC sins from public eyes. The height of all this is that CSR has been converted in to the source of profits. CSR has also generated a new business-the verifying and auditing agencies. Large number of NGOs are actually co-opted by their conversion in CSR auditing agencies and many other by providing huge funding on CSR research and campaign (actually for doing everything to justify CSR, mild criticism is always to maintain neutral image). On the other hand, the impact of CSR activities is also disastrous in the sense that it both directly and indirectly transforms rights based people’s consciousness in beggar’s consciousness and injects in them a deeply penetrated dependency.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to challenge the corporate led globalization by all means and at all levels. To challenge the corporate led globalization, requires an alternative politics of Pro-Labour Globalisation and an agenda for Pro-people and Pro-Labour New International Economic Regime.

The politics of the global capital can only be challenged by the politics of global labour. The politics of voluntary CSR can only be challenged by strong social and political movement for international and national regulations.

It must be clear to us that in the current International economic regime; even to fight against deregulations (and for re-regulations on labour rights, human rights, social rights and environmental rights) at national level is difficult unless it is accompanied by a strong movement for the same at international level. After becoming part of WTO, the nations have lost their capabilities to regulate on the issues that affect the issues involved in WTO agreements they have signed. And if we enter in any issue of labour rights, human rights, social rights and environmental rights, it demands such legislations and financial implications that may not be allowed in WTO framework. Many of the issues related to these rights require state subsidies, welfare expenses and renationalization of public services on the one hand, and regulations to control the behavior of the corporate on the other. It will certainly violate the framework of WTO. It requires a courage and will power to challenge the WTO framework, and only those states can have that courage that are largely pro-labour and pro-people.

It is worth noting that the emergence of a strong movement forcing for international regulations and the New International Economic Order (NIEO) in 1960s and 1970s was possible only because of comparatively more pro-people regimes in newly independent nations who formed G-77 and the coalition that emerged between trade union movements, social movements and the G-77. This coalition was force broken by imperialist countries in 1980s by crushing the backbone of developing countries that fell in the debt trap in 1980-82 crises.

However, there is a possibility that such coalition may again emerge. Right now all the factors for the coalition are still weak; however, contradictions in globalization are growing so fast that in near future things may change. Trade union movement is still weak, but if we look at the ground it is fast growing and gaining strength. Global justice movement appears much larger and stronger than its earlier incarnations. And the third factor with all its weaknesses and limitations, has also emerged on the seen in the form of G-20+ (including, among others, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Venezuela). The G-20+ was introduced to the world in 2003, at the WTO’s fifth ministerial meeting in Cancun, where developing country governments organized themselves in response to longstanding concerns over agricultural subsidies and trade-related intellectual property rights. The group’s demands were not met and the talks collapsed. It is quite evident that G-20+ has a positive role. However, G-20+ is far weaker in all respects than G-77. There is possibility of alliance between trade unions and social movements with G-20+ only when the movements are strong enough to compel G-22+ to ally with the people and raise their concerns. But with consistent efforts to come together to fight on the issues of the common concern at international level can be the only way to realize this possibility in whatever extent.

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This entry was posted on July 30, 2011 by in Campaigns on Labour Rights.

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